The Little Whirlwind Review

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It’s time to look at another Disney short! This time Mickey is back in the lead but he’ll have to deal with some pretty powerful opponents. You’ll probably feel bad for Mickey here because it seems to happen quite a lot that he has to go up against beings which aren’t quite human and have a lot of supernatural abilities. How is Mickey supposed to handle these beings? Well, he’ll certainly give his 100% into stopping such a threat.

The short starts off with Mickey finishing up a hard day of work and heading home. That’s when he notices that Minnie is baking a pie and asks if he can have some. She explains that he can only have some if he does all of the yard work for her. Mickey agrees and begins the task. Unfortunately just as he is finishing up a tornado appears and begins to try and sabotage all of his efforts. Mickey doesn’t know what it wants, but he’s got a pie to eat so the mouse tries to end this fight.

As you can probably imagine the majority of the special is about Mickey trying to capture the tornado. Mickey tries everything from tying it up to beating it into submission. Unfortunately nothing appears to work and the tornado even calls in a few of his buddies. At that point Mickey can’t even afford to worry about the pie as his life is in jeopardy. Unfortunately Minnie doesn’t notice any of this so you can probably guess who will get the blame once the town is leveled into the ground. I mean, Mickey doesn’t look like he’s quite that strong, but if it’s believable to Minnie then who am I to argue? Yeah…Minnie definitely had a pretty rough time of it in these last two specials.

The special can be a little tragic, but on the other hand Mickey does get his pie in a way. I suppose that beats not getting it at all right? The animation is on point here and the battle between Mickey and the tornado is on point. You can feel the emotions at play here as the fight gets brutal. I’d say that Mickey may have even had the edge by the end since the tornado had to call for backup. If Mickey had backup of his own like Donald then the whole situation may have turned out a little differently. Still, he didn’t back down.

Overall, This special was pretty fun. As all of these specials are all just a few minutes long it’s all about trying to squeeze in as much content as possible. You want to keep the audience engaged as much as possible and have a memorable ending. While the ending isn’t a happy one for Mickey it certainly could have been considerably worse. All in all he did all right for himself and I did think that this special was more interesting than the last one. I’d recommend checking it out. As long as you don’t mind seeing the heroes on the losing end here it makes for a pretty fun special.

Overall 7/10

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Pluto’s Sweater Review

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It’s time to look at an old Disney special about Pluto. Pluto typically can’t hold his own special as well as Donald or Mickey but the character always has potential. After all, Snoopy ended up becoming quite the hit in Peanuts even if their circumstances may be a little different. This special is also a lot less tragic than Pluto’s last one which helps quite a bit.

The general premise is that Minnie has made a new sweater for Pluto. The problem is that she’s not the smartest character on the block and made Pluto a pink sweater despite knowing that he wouldn’t want to wear such a thing. She forces it on him and Pluto spends the remainder of the special trying to get it off. It’s tough because the sweater is sentient and wants a host so that it can continue to survive and thrive. Honestly it really isn’t a bad strategy when you think about it. The sweater just wants to live so you may be rooting for it.

Naturally as with most of the Disney special this one is only a few minutes long so it goes by real quick. The pacing is on point and it stays interesting throughout. As I mentioned this special isn’t tragic which is definitely important. There is a cat that mocks Pluto for a while, but eventually the tables are turned and it learns that embracing the sweater ultimately isn’t a choice. You just have to roll with the punches, better now than later. Pluto is now safe once more, until next Christmas.

As far as the animation goes it is just as solid as the rest of the Disney specials. The colors are all pretty vibrant and the characters are on point. Consistency is the key to success and it’s an area where Disney has excelled for years and years. There is always something happening on screen whether it is in the forefront or in the background. Part of what makes the specials a lot of fun is how chaotic and energetic the animation is. It’s something that you simply can’t duplicate with traditional CGI or some of the more low budget hand drawn stuff that you see nowadays.

I do have to say one last time that Minnie wasn’t a great character here though. She is brought to tears way too quickly and basically starts to guilt trip Pluto. Naturally the fact that she didn’t notice how much Pluto didn’t want to wear the sweater is used for comedy, but it doesn’t make you any more likely to take her side. If she had noticed that Pluto didn’t want to wear the sweater then she probably wouldn’t have felt quite as bad about it being shrunk down to size.

Overall, Pluto’s a fun character but I still do think he can’t hold his own specials quite as well as Mickey of Donald. That’s not to say that the special is bad or anything, but the other two just add an extra element through their dialogue that Pluto can’t match. He has to rely on pure animation as a visual medium which is fine, but it just won’t have the same impact as the others. How could it? Dialogue (With good writing) is just too powerful to be matched in most situations. If you haven’t seen this special yet then I would recommend checking it out. You’ll get to see the sweater in action and what could be a greater honor than that?

Overall 6/10

Magician Mickey Review

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It’s time to look at a very quick Disney short. Now, most of these old shorts were quite…short, but this one really takes the cake. It’s listed as 8 minutes online, but it seemed to only be about 2-3 minutes while watching it. Maybe the special was just that good, but it does seem like the shortest of all the Disney shorts and that is actually pretty impressive. There are really only 2 main characters here, Donald and Mickey. Naturally they are on opposing sides here as you might expect.

The film starts off with Mickey performing some tricks on stage. He is a magician and not simply one who uses parlor tricks to get by. Mickey knows real magic so I assume this is in the same continuity as that other special where Mickey was learning spells under the tutelage of that random magician. Unfortunately Donald isn’t a fan of Mickey’s act and decides to sabotage the mouse. Mickey doesn’t really like confrontation so he avoids Donald for a little while, but eventually he decides to put the duck in his place. Sparks fly and both characters really get into it. There is a winner here though as the special doesn’t end on a cop out.

It’s a fun enough short. I like seeing this more confident version of Mickey. He isn’t about to let Donald just get his way without a fight. Still, Mickey is a professional so he tries to end the situation in a way that is still entertaining to his captive audience. I have to admit that this is one of his best appearances in the various Disney shorts. Then we have Donald who is pretty fun as always. He is definitely the antagonist here, I don’t think there can be any doubt on that fact. Still, while Donald is unreasonable he is still entertaining as you would expect. He’ll definitely give you flashbacks to any hecklers you may have faced in showbiz. They can’t be pleased and they won’t be silenced. All you can do is listen to them and wait for an opening to use your next act. Of course once the heckler gets violent as Donald did then you can be all set to use your skills to wow the crowd and stop this disruption.

The animation looks pretty smooth as always. I like the character designs here and the stage looks pretty nice. There was definitely a lot of care that went into this. There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but I suppose you wouldn’t reasonably expect one here. On a technical level this special delivered just as well as it did with the writing and the characters. It’s a solid short from whatever angle you decide to look at it from.

Overall, Magician Mickey is a nice short to watch while you polishing off an afternoon snack. It’s the perfect amount of time for that and it’ll feel pretty nostalgic. There’s nothing wrong with the special and it only takes a few minutes to watch so why wouldn’t you take the plunge? Because it is so short I don’t think it will wind up being one of your favorites or anything like that, but I’ll still give the short some props for doing a good amount in its limited time frame. We’ll see if any upcoming short can hope to match this one.

Overall 7/10

A Bug’s Life Review

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Lets look at a Bug’s Life. The film itself is nothing all that special compared to some of the other big animated films of the last decade, but it’s still a quality film. It doesn’t really do anything wrong and will keep you engaged from start to finish. It’s a fun adventure with good pacing, but you will get the feeling that it’s just lacking something. That extra impact to raise the film from a solid 7 to a great 8. I don’t know what that something is though so maybe the film would bring it for a sequel.

The plot starts by introducing us to the Ant pack. These guys are very strong in number, but they are rather passive. They aren’t even confident about going around a leaf without being told how to do it by one of the elders. Their own insecurities have led them to be tamed by the Grasshoppers even though the Ants badly outnumber them. Flik decides that Ants shouldn’t be working for grasshoppers like this and has begun making inventions to help make their lives easier. Unfortunately his inventions often backfire so he is convinced to leave the tribe under the pretense of recruiting powerful allies. That’s when Flik discovers a circus of powerful creatures and realizes that this is his chance. Will the performers want to help? Even if they do, can they possibly win against trained Grasshoppers?

It’s a fun enough plot. Naturally when a film is based around animals this can get pretty dicey but the film never goes that route which is fortunate. You wouldn’t really expect animal violence in this film anyway but it’s always good to have confirmation. The Grasshoppers make for pretty good villains. Some of them are even pretty vicious like the leader, Hopper or the one who is always foaming at the mouth. It makes for intense visuals and you do realize that the Ants are doomed in one on one fights. Even as a team they better have really good combos because otherwise they would be wiped out. The leader of the Grasshoppers is also the kind of villain who doesn’t give up easily. Even at the end Hopper was trying to reclaim his dominance at the top of the food chain. Unfortunately he ran into the best character of the film and one doesn’t often walk away from such an encounter. It was actually a rather vicious end for the guy.

If the film has a weak point, it would be that most of the characters aren’t all that engaging. I didn’t really care for anyone from the circus. The Ladybug who talks tough never actually acts tough when it’s climax time so he’s out. The others didn’t even try fighting at the end even though some of them look like they should be able to put up a good fight. They were also quick to walk away with the circus owner although I won’t put too much blame on them since the Ants did not want them. That brings me over to the Ants. The Ant Princess is definitely not a quality character and her plans are no good. Even after she figures out the main character’s deception, why send the circus troupe back? They definitely don’t have enough time to meet the Grasshoppers’ demands now so making do with these guys was her only option. Instead she just puts the Ants in a position to be ganged up on and eliminated. As the leader she needed to make a better call. The ex leader, aka the Queen wasn’t great either. She didn’t really do anything the whole time and was content to be on the sidelines. That’s not leadership material either.

As mentioned before, this doesn’t apply to the villains though. The Grasshoppers are certainly quite intimidating and the leader knows how to control his pack. If they dare cross him then they must take a punishment. He’s also bold enough to be surrounded by Ants and not care. If only the Ants were as brave. I haven’t talked much about the main character, but I’m afraid that he’s not very good so he fits in with the Ants. Even when the villain threatens to destroy one of the kids Flik backs up and decides to keep the peace. That’s definitely not something that any true main character would do. If you won’t stick up for your friends then you can’t be a hero.

The graphics aren’t bad. All of the character models appear to be on point. It definitely has more jungle type landscapes than the average film since most of it takes place in a grassy environment. There isn’t really much of a soundtrack though so don’t expect any great tunes to jam to. The writing is pretty good with a sound script. None of the characters seem over the top, at most they are just very naive like the average Ant. It’s almost hard to root for those guys since the Grasshoppers just seem a lot smarter and more strategic. The Ants have every possible advantage if they would just use it.

Overall, A Bug’s Life is a good film. It reminds you of the strength in numbers tactic and that you can’t submit to another species without a fight. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I would recommend checking it out. It’s a solid adventure film with a bit of action which makes for a pretty solid combo. Maybe one day these characters will show up in Kingdom Hearts. The movie doesn’t really leave any cliffhangers as it’s a complete ending but you could easily follow up on it by having another species decide to move in when they hear that the Grasshoppers have fallen. There are a lot of possibilities there.

Overall 6/10

Moose Hunters Review

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It’s time to look at a classic Disney special. Moose Hunters is a team up adventure and those are usually pretty solid but Goofy ends up getting most of the screen time which was definitely not a great move. It ends up being one of the weaker specials I’m afraid but as always Donald is here to try and save it.

The adventure begins with the trio deciding to get some Moose. Goofy and Donald will act as the bait while Mickey loads the shotgun. Unfortunately for the mouse he gets pushed by the big moose on campus and ends up losing his shotgun. At this point it is all over for him. Mickey delays the inevitable by grabbing some grass big that’s basically it for him in the special. His subplot wasn’t bad though.

Goofy and Donald’s plot is the one that drags on. They decide to dress up as a female moose and do their best to distract the other one but since Mickey is out of the picture they are stuck in the role for a considerable amount of time. The same joke just keeps on going and going long after it has ceased to be amusing. While it is a parody of this kind of plot, I also never like the idea of using romance to trick the opponent into lowering his guard. For starters if should never work unless a character is extremely weak willed. It would have been nice if the Moose had just kicked these guys away. It would have sent a good message that he was not to be trifled with.

As always the animation is pretty solid. It’s all very fast paced and uses a lot of movement without getting sloppy. The character designs are on point and you do feel a certain level of tension throughout as you wonder if the heroes have what it takes to win this fight. There isn’t really anything in the way of music here but seeing as how the special is only a few minutes long there wasn’t much time to throw it in.

Overall, Moose Hunting is definitely not going to be remembered in the same way as most of the other shorts. It’s just not nearly as captivating or intense, but I will give it some points for effort. If you just really want to see the old gang in a new adventure then by all means check it out but I would sooner advise just about any of the other specials for a better time. This one’s plot just wasn’t good from the start which hurt it. After all, how can we root for the main characters when they’re hunters? It’s a very morally dubious career choice and one that can be a debate all on its own. Long story short though, I was rooting for the moose here so when the main characters got wrecked I was pretty satisfied. They had to beat a hasty retreat so the right side won.

Overall 4/10

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two Review

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Epic Mickey was definitely not my favorite platformer game. I thought that the story was very uninspired and the levels certainly didn’t have a very good design to them. There just wasn’t too much to it but I figured that a sequel would help with all of that. Unfortunately I can’t say that this was the case as this game is still rather glitchy and has poor motion controls to back it up. It’s not a bad game but certainly not the most enjoyable one out there.

The story starts with Mickey returning to Oswald’s world because something isn’t right. The Phantom Blot may have been destroyed but citizens of the kingdom are now being kidnapped. Moreover, someone has destroyed all of the warp gates in town so they are no longer accessible. If they don’t find the villain soon, then the whole world is at stake.

Thing is, you never really feel that sense of urgency while playing the game. The heroes barely seem to care about what is happening so why should we? Even the citizens feel no sense of loyalty as one turns evil for no reason and the rest flock to be Mad Doctor since he has promised to help out from now on. The town just isn’t very smart and this makes it a little difficult to really want to save them.

That brings me to the fact that this game’s cast of characters certainly isn’t great. Mickey is probably the most reasonable member of the group here as he does at least show some passion and nearly gets into a fight when one of the splatters looks at him the wrong way. Mickey wasn’t playing around in this game and also made the heroic call to not put the hostages at risk.

Then we have Oswald…I’m not sure how heroic I can say this guy is. For starters he is one of the characters who believes that the Mad Doctor has turned over a new leaf. I can’t fault him for being optimistic and that is a heroic quality but it’s annoying because we then have to hear the villain sing constantly. What hurts him more is that Oswald quickly gets jealous when the townspeople start liking the Mad Doctor. He also encourages Mickey to finish the villain off at the end even at the expense of his friends/hostages. Granted, the hostages are robots but that’s an ethical debate that Oswald probably loses since they seem sentient and Mickey did want to save them. Oswald’s just not a very heroic guy at the end of the day.

The gameplay is that of a 3D platformer where you run and jump to the goal. Typically you have to fulfill some kind of objective before making it to the end like destroying a machine or something of that nature. You have a paint brush which gives you access to two abilities, shooting normal paint and also shooting acid which really trips opponents up. It’s a handy ability to have but one that you will wish was not in the game since the motion controls make it a disaster. In general this is a perfect example of why I’m not really a fan of the motion era. It’s all just so rigid and not very intuitive. When you’re trying to aim at someone the brush will go crazy and you have to recalibrate your Wii sensor again.

The objectives aren’t always straight forward either as you will wonder what needs to be done while you are going around blasting everything. The objectives on the map aren’t helpful either because it will show you the locations of the bonus missions but not for the main one. As a result expect to take a little longer than expected to beat the game.

The game did do a pretty good job with the boss fights at least. The final boss is pretty theatrical and uses gameplay elements from the final Sonic DX boss (In Sonic mode) like the floor giving way and even mixing in a bit of Mario there as the floor becomes lava. These fights did take a little time to figure out how to fight the opponent but the Mystery wasn’t confusing and the characters would shout-out some clues which were actually helpful for a change.

You also have to give the game credit for throwing in quite a lot of bonus content in the game. It’s story isnalreadybreasonably long at about 6 hours and with the bonus content you’ll probably be here for another 4-6. I can’t say that it is something even remotely tempting to me to be honest but it’s always a good option to have regardless as it prevents your game from being known as barebones.

The graphics are reasonably good. The final big cutscene actually looks really good so I’m thinking that they spent the vast majority of their budget on this rather than on the whole game. I can understand the case for this since gameplay isn’t quite as important visually but getting it all to look smooth is important. The actual gameplay doesn’t even look as good as some N64 games. Forget the soundtrack as well since there really isn’t much there.

There is a cliffhanger at the end which is either resolved in the extra content at the end of in a third game which will likely never come out. Ideally it’s the former I suppose. So the game did a lot of things wrong, but as I mentioned it at least had some positives to back it up as well like the boss fights. While the gameplay certainly wasn’t polished and made you feel like it was the true enemy at times, I do still generally like platformers like this one.

Overall, Epic Mickey 2 is not exactly game of the year material but it does try hard to be the big success that we all knew it could be. It just doesn’t pick up until the final boss of the game and was ultimately a missed opportunity. I’d probably still get the third game but I really wouldn’t have very high hopes for it. When you make the same mistakes twice, that is usually a bad sign. At least a sequel wouldn’t need to deal with the Wii motion controls.

Overall 5/10

A Wrinkle in Time Review

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It’s time to look at a recent book adaption. Unfortunately the book wasn’t good so an adaption was ultimately doomed to not be very good either. It’s a real shame since there are better books that we still need proper adaptions of like Daniel X. The film’s plot is just really weak, the characters aren’t likable or enjoyable, and the climax has a lot of plot hax. Yes, you have made it to the final Wrinkle in Time movie!

The plot starts off with a little girl named Meg getting in another fight. Her Mom is worried since this has been happening a lot lately. Meg’s father vanished a while back and he probably isn’t coming back so now at school everyone messes with Meg about it. That’s when an alien breaks into the house and tells Meg that they can find her father. Meg’s brother Charles is cool with this and her friend Calvin is game as well. The alien transports them to another world and now they have to use the powers of friendship and hope to break reality and free her father. Can they do this?

Keep in mind that the plot isn’t really the focus of the film. You can argue that it’s all just an abstract roundabout way of trying to get Meg to come to terms with her feelings. A big chunk of the film is about getting Meg to accept the unexplainable and to believe in the impossible like her father coming back. It’s an interesting moral since usually it’s more about letting go. Honestly this should have focused on the mother more as she knew about the dad’s experiments about teleportation and never did a thing to try and find him. Shouldn’t she have suspected the most what had really happened as opposed to just buying into his disappearance?

Meanwhile the 3 aliens are extremely annoying and don’t contribute anything interesting to the film. For starters, they don’t know how to interact with humans which gets really grating right from the start. They constantly insult Meg (Okay, just the main one throws the insults, but the others express their doubts a lot) just like the bullies in the real world. Are these really the cosmic beings that we are supposed to root for? They don’t get any good scenes and throw Meg into this world with no context so of course she is having some trouble. They should be more concerned with how Charles is taking everything in stride.

Charles was the worst character in the book and that hasn’t changed here. The film did a good job of reducing his scenes quite a bit which was great but at the end of the day nothing can really save his unfortunate ending. He’s very weak willed so the darkness can control him quite easily. It makes for a visually interesting climax where he gains telekinesis and super abilities but that makes him too strong. Meg is just a kid so keep that in mind and he has super powers. She literally has no chance of victory but even after getting thrown around the room multiple times to the point where she should have died, Charles is convinced to turn good again through the power of friendship. I think the climax should have been handled way differently. As it is Charles was less shady than in the book but either way the betrayal was a bit much.

Then we have Calvin who is just annoying the whole time. He’s pretty much here just to try and add in a bit of romance. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t work very well. He adds absolutely nothing to the film and just seems unrealistic. He helps her self esteem a lot and seems like a nice kid, but of course he needs to have a sob story as well. Why can’t he just be a nice guy who isn’t trying to compensate for something? The romance doesn’t get much of a focus fortunately but you do have to question why it was around in the first place.

The cast is rather small as the film is focusing on the visuals and not developing everyone. Unfortunately that means that every bad character really hurts the film and that is the case here. Lets make sure we have the record straight. We have Calvin who is a filler character. He’s not terrible, but he isn’t good. Then we have Charles who is a terrible character. The 3 Aliens are also super annoying. Meg isn’t very likable either as she is simply too mopey and constantly doubting herself. By the end of the film she finally gains confidence but it’s too late. We have the school personnel who are bad at their job like expected and then the bullies are added in as fluff. The Father is a poor character as well if you ask me. Maybe he shouldn’t be blamed for being powerless to escape his prison, but the guy just came across as really unprepared and had a tendency to give up easily.

As you can see this film just really didn’t hit the right notes for me. Granted, its biggest offense for the most part is simply that it was very boring. It’s not as if it made huge mistakes that would make me give it a terrible score like a 2. It won’t be positive either though since I just can’t recommend a boring film either. The film just has no life in it or any real imagination either. It just feels soul less and never gets you engaged. It’s like a fantasy film without any good lore behind it.

Overall, A Wrinkle In Time gets a hard pass from me. If you want to watch something that makes you feel like you’re watching a real film then check out something like Narnia instead. You will leave that film feeling a lot more fulfilled and it’ll probably age better as well. Perhaps a sequel to this film would work better now that the introductions are out of the way but it would still need a plot that is actually interesting to back it up so that may be a little too much for this series to handle as well. Still, with a sequel there is always hope I suppose.

Overall 4/10

Pluto’s Purchase Review

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It’s time for the next Disney short which is another Pluto special. Unfortunately it wasn’t very good like the last one. It’s a shame because this special was going reasonably well until the very mean spirited ending. Definitely not the way you want to end any special.

The story begins with Mickey sending Pluto to the deli in order to grab his lunch. Mickey has been growing old over the years so of course he wouldn’t go grab it himself. Pluto has no problems with the plan since securing his own lunch will make it taste even better. Unfortunately, one of the alley dogs decides to try and steal the meat. Pluto is in for quite a fight!

It’s a classic story of two dogs fighting it out for the same lunch. Obviously Pluto is in the right here as it’s his lunch which he paid for fair and square. The other dog is just another in a long line of villains who would like to stop Pluto but he shall fall like the rest. At least that’s what you would think. Unfortunately the special actually ends with the dog winning and in one of the worst ways possible.

Pluto had made it home but then Mickey snatches the lunch away and gives it to the other dog. That was one of the biggest betrayals that I’ve seen in quite a while and Pluto doesn’t get a happy ending of any kind. Being forced to share it would be one thing, but losing it altogether? Yeah that’s not really a good idea.

The whole thing also makes Mickey look very bad and out of character. He seems completely oblivious to everything when I like to think that he is more on the cunning side and always ready for what is to come. He would have realized that having Pluto go grab his usual lunch would lead to the assumption that it was his. He should have told Pluto straight up what was going on instead of all this zigzag. At least tell him to buy 2 since then the implication would also be clear. Not saying it until the end just isn’t a nice or fair approach.

The animation is smooth as always. Disney is still consistent in that area and that won’t change for quite a while. It’s easy to forget just how old the specials are since they look so bright and vibrant. You would be forgiven for thinking that the special is a lot newer than it actually is.

Overall, this special is one that you will probably want to skip. Dread it, Run from it, but the Pluto specials will always find a way to break the mold of Disney successes and make some kind of mistake. At least if these two specials are a good indication of the group. There’s just no reason to watch a Pluto special when you can watch one about any other character. He’s simply not ready for the big time.

Overall 5/10